Places We Protect

Mary Macdonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor


Horseshoe Harbor on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. © Harold E. Malde

At the tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, stunted shrubs and trees cling to ancient bedrock created by Lake Superior’s fierce winds.



Why Is This Preserve Significant?

Since it was originally established in 1982, the Mary Macdonald Preserve has grown to encompass 1,200 acres, including five miles of Lake Superior shoreline. While the rugged bedrock beach here supports only the toughest of plants such as lichen, the preserve is home to 11 threatened or rare species.

What Can I See Here?

Along the shoreline a rocky ridge creates a barrier for inland species and slower growing plants.

Just inland from the rock beaches, forest thrives in this cool, moist climate. Balsam fir, white cedar, white spruce and white birch provide habitat for the black bear, snowshoe hare, peregrine falcon, ruffed grouse, golden-crown kinglet, black throated green warbler and yellow rumped warbler. Hiking boots are definitely recommended for walking the trails and shoreline of this preserve.




Hiking, Snowshoeing, Birdwatching, Swimming and Deer Hunting (by permit)


1,261 acres

Explore our work in this region

Late summer and early fall are the best times to visit this preserve to fully enjoy the beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula without the irritation of the biting insects that come out in the early summer. Hiking boots are recommended for walking the trails and shoreline of this preserve. If you want to visit during the early summer months bring insect repellant to protect against biting insects.

The Nature Conservancy allows hunting for white-tail deer on this preserve to reduce threats too many deer can pose to the other plants and animals that live here. All hunters are required to receive a permit from the Conservancy as well as a Michigan deer hunting license. Additionally, hunters must report any deer taken from the preserve.

Permitted Activities

  • Hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing
  • Bird watching, nature study and photography
  • Swimming
  • Geocaching
  • Kayaks and canoes are permitted on Lake Superior. Vessels must be carried from the parking area.
  • Research projects and educational studies with approved permit
  • Hunting with a Conservancy-issued permit for whitetail deer

Prohibited Activities

  • No rock climbing and rappelling
  • No motorized and non-motorized vehicles
  • No building of new trails
  • No pets
  • No hunting or trapping without a Conservancy-issued permit
  • No removal of plants or animals (alive or dead)
  • No removal of rocks, water, or other non-organic materials
  • No camping, bonfires, fireworks, or other fires
  • No firewood collecting
  • No littering
Spotlight on Nature: Mary Macdonald Preserve at Horseshoe Harbor